Friends and family are the most help through divorce

Divorce can be a very isolating time. For me, it wasn’t so much the months after we had separated but more the months leading up to my decision and the months my ex and I spent talking about it. I was withdrawing socially because I wanted to avoid questions I didn’t want to answer. Once we’d separated and the end of our marriage was public knowledge, it was a huge relief for me. Finally, I could talk about it.

Divorce doesn’t happen that way for everyone and certainly for Debbie, the discovery that her husband was a pedophile meant dealing with one of our culture’s most despised, darkest ills. I asked Debbie, what resources, in addition to the support of her therapist, helped her through this time. Here’s Debbie:

At first, I was thinking we were going to work on this and our marriage. I did a lot of research on sex addiction and found this Sexaholic Anonymous group but it didn’t have a spouses group. I remember talking to my husband about some of the people in his group, who they were, did they have wives and so on. Most of their marriages had broken up. So I thought,

“That’s not going to help to talk to anyone.”

Then when the child abuse came out, it went from the ‘being married to a sex addict’ to ‘being married to a pedophile.’  It totally changed the dynamic and nobody stays married to a pedophile. It just wasn’t out there.

I went to an Al-Anon meeting once but the issues were so different. Someone who abuses alcohol has very different issues from someone who abuses children so Al-Anon was not helpful.

I think part of it is pedophilia is very secretive or maybe my story is unique. I keep thinking there’s got to be other people, I just haven’t found them. I found bits and pieces.

There’s a book by Julie Metz, Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal. It’s the story of her husband who died suddenly. Then, after his death, she found out that he had been cheating on her. Once again there were no children issues, there were no men issues. It was infidelity. I read that book and it was helpful.

I also read Silent Partner: A memoir of My Marriage by Dina McGreevey. She’s the wife of the former New Jersey governor who came out as gay while in office.

Writing and talking about it has helped. I went through a lot of soul-searching when I started thinking about writing about my experience. I certainly am willing to have this open in my life but I’ve been very purposeful so it can’t be linked back to my son. I haven’t put my last name on my blog and my picture’s not on it so hopefully I’ve put enough protections in place so my son or one of his friends, doesn’t find it.

Eventually, I’m going to tell him. He already knows bits and pieces of it. I’m not planning for him not to know but I think I’ve balanced my need to reach out with my need and desire to protect him.

When this first happened, I fell apart. I cried, I broke down, sometimes I couldn’t work, sometimes I could not take care of my son. What got me through was allowing myself to feel what I needed to feel and to let people help me. I could not have survived without my family and friends. So that’s one take away – reach out and ask for help and accept it.

I can imagine how isolating this was for Debbie. As I’ve been writing this and doing various searches for links, I’ve seen very little about women being married to pedophiles. I’m glad Debbie is sharing her story, not only with Since My Divorce but also on her own blog at My Everyday Journey – I don’t believe her situation is unique and because of her, another woman won’t have to wonder if she’s the only one married to a pedophile.

Debbie’s advice about asking for help too, is a lesson a number of women have spoken about. Melanie explains it was hard to ask for help because she’d always thought of herself as an independent woman. For me it meant having to come clean that I couldn’t manage to do it all myself. I’ve found that people are very willing to help once asked and I like being given the opportunity to help them too.

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  • http://thesinglemotherschronicles.com swati

    My heart just breaks for you Debbie. It’s amazing that you are able to focus on helping others who may be in the same situation – you are doing the right thing.

    Sending much love and happiness our way for the future.

    Swati

  • beth

    I cannot even begin to tell you how much relief and comfort I have found in Debbie’s story. Her story is quite similar to my own, and I had no idea there was anyone else out there like me. The devastation, humiliation, and trauma involved are difficult to express in words. Slowly, I am coming back to myself, the person I used to know. It is hard to do all of it alone, and admitting I need help is not easy. I am taking it one day at a time, one issue at a time. I have just moved closer to home where I have friends and family who can help me some (this is HUGE!). I have also just hired someone to help me clean my house. This is a small step toward sanity in a crazy life filled with career, home, and two small children. Someday, my boys will have to know the truth about their father being a sex offender. For now, we are taking baby steps toward a healthy, happy future.

    • Mandy

      Beth, I am so glad you left a comment. I hope you visit Debbie’s blog and connect with her. The two of you would be great support for each other and also then, Debbie will know for sure that she has helped someone by sharing her story. My heart goes out to you – this is a monumental event to recover from. I’m glad you have friends and family to support you. Keep taking those baby steps forward because one day you’ll look back and you won’t believe how far you’ve come.

  • http://myeverydayjourney.net Debbie

    Beth – I am so glad we (and others who have contacted me) have connected. My greatest hope in telling my story and having Mandy tell my story was being able to reach out and help others and, in turn, help myself. Mandy – You have made this possible for me and others. Thanks for all that you do on this blog. You make such a difference.

    • Mandy

      Thank you Debbie – it means a lot to have you say that.

  • http://myeverydayjourney.net Debbie

    Another great general resource is The Courage to be a Single Mother by Sheila Ellison. She writes from the perspective of becoming a single mom after divorce and her words are incredibly helpful to anyone going through this transition.

  • http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com April

    I’ve never heard of that Ellison book; I’ll definitely have to check it out.
    Debbie, I’m so glad to see that some have reached out to you, and I have a feeling there are others out there that are drawing comfort from your courage.
    I think blogging and the online community has been such a great resource for so many of us that are afraid we’re the only ones. It IS really hard to admit that you need help; especially when you’re a parent. It can even be hard to simply make the effort to go to a meeting or a therapy session. The internet makes it so much easier to connect without finding child care!

    • Mandy

      I would imagine that the internet makes it easier not just logistically but also because you can choose to be anonymous and maintain some privacy. You don’t have to worry about having bared your soul to someone you might run into at the grocery store.

  • Pat Williams

    My friends and family were too biased so I was searching for online resources after my divorce. Just looking for some advice for divorced dads when I came across http://www.dadsdivorce.com. There was a lot of informative information on there that really helped explain some technical issues for me regarding custody of my kids and the forums allowed me to speak to other people in my shoes who really understood what I was going through.

  • http://www.dadsdivorce.com advice for divorce

    Online resources really helped me during and after my divorce. Friends and family were there for me but often could not give constructive criticism or unbiased advice.

  • Kpechacek

    I wish there were places for the spouses of pedophiles to go. I got laid off 3 days after my husband was arrested.
    Now, I’m stuck under the same roof and have been for 18 months.
    He can’t even pass an ABEL assessment. Concerned? Oh yes.

    • Anonymous

      My heart goes out to you. Debbie also told me she couldn’t find a support group. I’m going to put you in touch with Debbie.

  • Jaune-indigo

    I have discovered in 2010 two weeks after my son (19 jears old) died accidently in canoe that my husband was strongly addicted to juvenile pornography (sexual dependance + pedophile). I have decided to divorce quickly. It is a real relief not to live with him… but I am still under the shock of the discovery of the different files and videos on our computer , 18 months  later…
    I am  looking for a support group or a book that could help me. Are you aware of any in Canada (Quebec) ?
     I have received a lot of support by my family and friends to help me in relation to my son…but he had a sister (now 22 years old), which is not aware of her father’s pedophily , and is already quite affected and sad due to her brother’s death. I cannot speak of the problem in particular to my usual friends, at work, as my ex husband works in the same field .
    I am desperately sad and stuck with my secret …

    • Anonymous

      @Jaune-indigo – First I’m sending you big virtual hugs – losing a child is so painful and then to face the discover of your husband’s pedophilia. I have heard from other women how difficult it is to find spousal support groups. Please contact Debbie who I interviewed. Her email address is: myeverydayjourney@gmail.com. You can read her story on my blog and I am sure she will be able to support you. I haven’t been in touch with Debbie for a while but she is a good soul and I believe she’ll be happy to help you.